Fate of 'dangerous dog' Marley in judge's hands

Family appealed ACS ruling after attack on 10-year-old


SAN ANTONIO – A county court judge is now considering whether to lift the "dangerous" designation bestowed on a dog involved in an attack on a 10-year-old girl one year ago.

Marley, a 3-year-old Labrador mix, was at the scene in December 2011 when 10-year-old Precious Ortiz was attacked and bitten by several dogs.

The city euthanized two of the dogs in the attack and Animal Care Services declared Marley dangerous, a designation that forced his owners to adhere to a strict set of rules, including posting signs and obtaining a $100,000 insurance policy.

Marley's owners appealed the ACS designation to municipal court and lost in January and then appealed that ruling to county court.

Attorney Sam Garcia argued for the city in Judge Irene Rios's court and Michelle Maloney represented the dog's owners.

Vincent Medley, ACS assistant director, said Ortiz told them Marley was in on the attack.

"You wouldn't give specific evidence, or a specific statement, that says, 'Well, Marley attacked me second,' if it didn't actually happen," Medley said.

Maloney said the girl told ACS that while she was still in shock from the attack, Marley was the dog who tried to save her.

"Precious is scared of dogs and she still sees Marley every day," Maloney said. "If that's not compelling evidence I don't know what is."

Ortiz testified in the Municipal Court hearing earlier this year and afterward said Marley was her favorite dog.

"Marley just ran out and started to help me, got on top of me, to protect me," Ortiz said in January. "He's my shield."

But the municipal court judge sided with the city.

The family appealed the ruling to the county court and is now hoping the dangerous dog declaration will be reversed.

Neither party has any idea when the judge will issue a ruling.

Until she does, Marley will remain under house arrest, declared a dangerous dog.